Monday, April 23, 2007

Odds and Ends

I heard a few interesting or amusing things on NPR over the past week which raise some questions.

Local News: The WA state government passed a bill letting gay couples register in a domestic partnership database and get some limited rights such as visiting rights in hospitals, ability to okay organ donation, etc. It's actually a kind of morbid bill if you read it, dealing with autopsies and death, but those are the areas that are important to have protected by law because that's the time that's apt to be extremely emotional for all involved. However, on NPR they reported that the domestic partnership law was available for all same-sex couples as well as different-sex couples who were over 62 or 65 (can't remember which - that's what I get for waiting a week to write this). Personally I think we should all have civil unions and let the religious institutions handle "marriage" or whatever they want to call it, so I'm all for letting unmarried heterosexual couples have domestic partnerships, but why only those over a certain age? Is it because they care more about death since it's likely to come sooner? Is it that they don't want to get married to protect their assets?

Marketplace: Apparently the Mall of America is considered by some the Eiffel Tower of Minnesota. Now I've been to the Mall of America - I spent one summer in Minneapolis with nothing to do but play card games and out of desperation we went to the mall - so I'm especially appalled by the reference. Sure, "Camp Snoopy", the amusement park in the middle of the mall, has some reasonable rides. Yes, there are many, many stores, but they are all overpriced because they have to pay such a premium to be in the mall that they can't charge normal rates. But ultimately it's just a large (largest in the US, actually) collection of stores that you could find in most large cities in America. Yet the Mall of America is trying to get taxpayers to pay for an expansion and people are claiming that folks come out to Minnesota to see the Mall of America just like they come to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. I'm not only extremely skeptical, but also somewhat horrified to see what passes for culture in the Midwest.

Day to Day: Georgia's Turner County High School held its first ever integrated prom this year - yet another example pointing out that the world is not populated only with people like me. Turner County High had its last school-sponsored prom the year desegregation became required - since then the white students and black students have held private segregated proms. This year the students (understandably, but please explain to me why they waited till 2007?) wanted an integrated prom. They still had their separate proms (they claim that it's "tradition") and some white students weren't allowed to attend the integrated prom because their parents didn't want them associating with the wrong kind of people, but they had it. The school raised money to throw the prom and apparently got so much attention and cash that they decided to buy ten iPods and give them away as door prizes. Okay, so - are there seriously still people living in the US who wouldn't let their kids go to a dance with people of another race? Which prom did the kids go to if they were not black or white in past years? And whose brilliant idea was it to give out iPods rather than putting the money into some anti-segregation books at the school library?

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